Solicited or not, Keegan Thompson and his family have received advice regarding his amateur baseball draft dilemma from everybody and their mother throughout the last year.

Unless you’re his mother, father or advisor, though, there’s a good chance the only other opinion the Cullman High ace and slugger will consider while deciding between playing for Auburn or accepting a major-league offer is his own.

If there’s one person Thompson might make an exception for, however, it’d be Caleb Clay, who went straight from the Bearcat baseball program to the grind of minor league baseball with the Boston Red Sox as the 44th pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

Clay’s hopes for a quick ascension to the big show were quickly dashed by a Tommy John procedure, but a breakthrough campaign thus far in 2013 has the right-handed starter back on track to the big leagues.

Like Thompson, Clay originally signed with Auburn, but it wasn’t long before a rapid development in his senior season at Cullman High made him realize the professional route was his best option.

Keeping all that in mind, it should come as no surprise Clay was willing to dole out some advice to Thompson — but unlike most others, it didn’t have anything to do with money.

“It’s kind of a hard situation for him, but it’s really up to him and his family what they think is the best decision for now and for the long run,” he said. “He’s got to make up his mind and stick with that decision. He can’t second-guess himself.”

One aspect of the situation that has Thompson and his parents leaning toward taking his talents to Auburn is the unglamorous lifestyle most minor leaguers are forced to lead.

From the pay to the competition to the constant worries running through his head, Clay confirmed that is one drawback of going professional for Thompson to think about.

“It’s such a rollercoaster, both mentally and physically,” Clay said. “More mentally, though. You might have two or three outings in a row where you get shelled and you start wondering, ‘What am I doing wrong? What happened? Am I ever going to play again?’ And being away from family is the toughest.”

% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at

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